I read a lot of books, and I love almost all of them. Life is too short to read boring books, so if I’m not enjoying it, I set it down. But some books are more than enjoyable page-turners. These are the books I want discuss, books I want to shove into my friends’ hands and shout “READ THIS SO WE CAN TALK ABOUT IT OKAY THANKS BYE!”
This blog post is the equivalent of me shoving these books in your hands and shouting at you.
THE RECKLESS OATH WE MADE, by Bryn Greenwood. I haven’t even read Greenwood’s breakout hit, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, but this caught my eye because it is so completely different than anything I’ve ever read before. The story centers on the relationship between Zhorzha, a six-foot-tall redhead who would do anything to protect the people she loves, and Gentry, an autistic man who speaks in Middle English, hears voices, and believes he is a k-night called to be Zhorzha’s champion (yes: k-night with a k). I thought: well, this could be an amazing story or it could be a dumpster fire. Guess what? I loved it. I am in awe of Greenwood’s ability to create characters that leap off the page and amazed that she created a character like Gentry. His chapters are written in Middle English but do not fret, fair maidens, they are not only readable, they are compassionately and tenderly written. This books tackles some heavy topics, and some of the point-of-view characters didn’t quite work for me, but I fell hard for Gentry. READ IT NOW PLEASE THEN LETS CHAT ABOUT GENTRY AND HOW HE’S THE BEST OKAY? (Note: I bought myself a copy, and then Putnam gifted me a finished copy, which I then gave away to share the love.)
THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS by Lisa Jewell. I fell hard for Lisa Jewell’s twisty, voice-y brand of suspense in Then She Was Gone, so I couldn’t wait to devour her next release. Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby receives a letter informing her that she has inherited an abandoned mansion from her birth parents. She soon discovers that this house was the site of a suspected murder-suicide, when three adults were found dead in the kitchen, and a baby–Libby–was found happily cooing in her crib upstairs. This is a less of a thriller and more of a gothic, twisted family drama, and I was here for every creepy chapter. This doesn’t release until 11/5/19 in the US but go ahead and preorder yourself a copy because WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE ENDING OKAY? (Note: review copy gifted by Atria Books.)
THE DOLL FACTORY by Elizabeth Macneal. A creepy stalker novel set in Victorian London featuring a terrifyingly eccentric taxidermist, a beautiful painter, and a street urchin? Yes, please! This sucked me in fast and hard, as we watch Silas (the terrifyingly eccentric taxidermist) become obsessed with Iris (the beautiful painter) and inch ever closer to his unsuspecting prey. I want to talk about the setting in this one, because it is expertly drawn: the sights, sounds, and smells. Maybe not a good choice for the squeamish, but if you enjoy dark reads, please pick this one up so we can TALK ABOUT ALL THE DETAILS LIKE THE CREEPY STUFFED MICE WEARING MINIATURE CLOTHES!(Note: finished copy gifted by Atria/Emily Bestler Books)
STOLEN THINGS by R.H. Herron. A 911 dispatcher receives the worst call of her life: from her own teenage daughter, who has awoken confused and groggy in an unknown location. Laurie (the 911 operator) immediately notifies the entire police department, where her husband is Chief of Police, and they spring into action to rescue Jojo. But after they find Jojo and bring her to safety, Laurie soon realizes that their personal nightmare is just beginning, as she uncovers a scandal that cuts to the heart of their community. I can’t stop talking about the authenticity of this book. The author spent seventeen years as a 911 dispatcher, and every scene feels so real it’s like you’re living it alongside the characters. So please READ THIS BOOK SO WE CAN TALK ABOUT THE OPENING SCENES! (Note: Review copy gifted by Dutton).
THE WHISPER MAN by Alex North. Look, I’m kind of a scaredy cat. I was afraid to glance in a mirror at night for most of my childhood because I thought Bloody Mary might be there, I had a panic attack at a sleepover when my friend pulled out a Ouija board, and I’m still pretty nervous whenever I have to spend the night alone in my house. So why on earth did I pick up this book? Combination of peer pressure and FOMO, I suppose. This story is about a decades-old serial killer dubbed “The Whisper Man” because he whispered through open doors and windows to his victims before kidnapping them. After the tragic death of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son, Jake, move to a quiet town, hoping for a fresh start. Instead, they unwittingly step into a resurgence of copycat crimes that bear a striking resemblance to The Whisper Man. And then Jake begins to hear the whispers. Friends, this crime novel sent literal goosebumps scattering up and down my limbs. It’s NOT horror and it’s not terribly gruesome, just impeccably written, chilling suspense–so if you’re a scaredy-cat like me, I think you can handle it. I need you to read this so we can TALK ABOUT THAT SCENE WITH THE LETTER SLOT OKAY? (Digital ARC obtained via Netgalley courtesy of Celadon Books, and then I won a physical copy! Yay).
THE DEARLY BELOVED by Cara Wall. This novel spoke to me in a soul-deep way, exploring questions that have circled in my mind for years. The story follows two young couples who meet when the husbands accept a joint ministry at a Presbyterian Church in 1960s New York City. Each of our four lead characters has a different experience with faith and God–one in a true believer, one is a revolutionary, one has a simple, childlike faith, and one doesn’t believe in God at all. As we follow them through the early years of marriage, through crises in their relationships and crises of faith, the author doesn’t tells us who has the “best” or “right” kind of faith. Never saccharine or preachy, Wall gently asks the reader to contemplate what it means to have faith, to belong, to experience doubt, and to embrace community. I think I cried about forty-seven times while reading this novel, so PLEASE READ IT BECAUSE I NEED TO DISCUSS ALL THE FEELINGS I FEEL ABOUT THIS STORY. (The lovely folks at Simon and Schuster gifted me a finished copy, but my thoughts are 100% my own).
And that’s it!
…until the next book I can’t stop talking about.
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